It’s quite astonishing to think about just how much human knowledge exists, and just how diffuse its distribution is. It’s hard for any individual to tell. There are clues though. Knowledge is a major way that people create distinctions among one another, so it stands to reason that you can get a sense for how knowledge is distributed by looking at the distinctions people make amongst themselves. The knowledge of French and the knowledge of English creates a distinction between two rather large groups. The knowledge and application of ancient stories is another. The knowledge of how to shape a piece of wood, or stone, or glass used to be a pretty huge distinction. There are entire identities put in[…]

What are the quality attributes and need-solution pairs of Web3? At minimum, the key quality attribute is decentralization. The key matching need is fairness. There are good reasons why this is so. I’d love to be able cite someone that there is a natural tendency for humans to centralize power. I’d love for that statement to be axiomatic. I can cite quite a few papers that appear to just take it as a given (Aristotle (301 BCE, Machiavelli (1513), Bloomfield and Coombs (1992)). But, I can’t find a passage for the axiom anywhere. For the purposes of this post, I’m importing the assumption as a truth: there is a tendency for people to centralize to power. Decentralization is a counter-force[…]

“Consider organized anarchies.” (Cohen, March and Olsen, 1972) Product management exists within the context of organized anarchies. Within that context, product managers do their best to create, read, update, and destroy elements of a product roadmap. There are a few definitions of what a product roadmap is. From Atlasssian: “A product roadmap is a shared source of truth that outlines the vision, direction, and progress of a product over time.” Another: “A product roadmap can be seen as a key element of an organization that maps out the vision and direction of the product offering. It describes the way how a product or a product portfolio is going to meet a set of business objectives and the work that is required[…]

Leopold makes the argument that business agility isn’t software agility [1]. It’s a very good argument. Here’s a few ways to think about Leopold’s insight. Most products are static. A pie is made, purchased, and consumed. As are most physical goods: toasters, fans, mattresses, tables and so on. Most goods leave a residue behind but their core essence is completed. A toaster will persist in the landfill unless it’s dug up later. Otherwise, it’ll go onto form a line in the geological strata. Most virtual goods are static too. A lottery ticket, a podcast, a book, a brand marketing campaign, an episode of Avenue5. Most of these goods are shipped and then they’re effectively gone from their creators. They leave[…]

Life changes the planet. It always has. We humans are life. We’re changing the planet. How you choose to think about it has a lot to do with what you choose to do about it. The Medea Hypothesis In his book, The Medea Hypothesis, Peter Ward summarizes a few decades of ecology research and adds a few of his ideas of his own. Ward argues that the idea that life seeks to create equilibrium with the environment, the Gaia Hypothesis, is false. He paints a compelling picture of how life doesn’t create harmony with the planet at all. Life appears to be in perpetual conflict with the abiotic environment. It tries to occupy as much space as it can. It[…]

What you believe has a lot to do with who you believe. Who you believe, and who you don’t, can be represented as a network. Networks cause and reinforce trust. In this post, I’m going to try to make the connection between trust, society, and the delta variant of COVID. As I begin writing this post on July 20, 2021, I know about Delta Variant. We know that it’s burning through large populations of unvaccinated people. I think most people see it coming. And as the days passed, I watched increasing anxiety about what is to come. As a I publish this on August 1, there still isn’t much evidence of a mass urgency to vaccinate. So why the inaction?[…]

The Canadian state has had an interesting relationship with networks since the beginning. Networks connect things and enable outcomes. Those who direct and influence the State have preferences for what those outcomes should be. To understand how the state is grappling with the consequences of social networks, it might be useful to look at how it has grappled with physical networks. We’ll begin with some basic theory about the Canadian State. Canada is made of citizens. Some of those citizens become leaders. Those leaders try to create some explainable representation of society’s optimal social welfare function, and package it into something people can recognize, understand and vote for. They do that because they need the consent of the citizens in[…]

Benedict Evans writes fantastic writing prompts. He’ll make references to different first principles, and he’ll go onto build arguments out of them later. Sometimes I agree with them. Sometimes I don’t. He does provoke thought. One theme is the nature of people. On October 9, 2020, Benedict Evans wrote: We connected everybody, and that meant we connected all the bad people and the idiots, and our own worst instincts, and all society’s problems get expressed in software. Sometimes the Internet amplifies and channels that, but maybe sometimes the Internet is people. On April 23, 2021, Benedict Evans wrote: Old: if you make something idiot-proof, God creates a better idiot.  New: if you create an Internet service that’s proof against assholes,[…]

Somewhere along the way, I came to believe that the word causal came from the word because. Because there’s a cause contained in the word because. The word is almost like a commandment. Be the cause. I don’t think that’s really true. It’s just a silly association. The word because seems to be an element of a persuasive argument. How about a little thought experiment? Consider the assessment: “Peaches are gross.” Okay, you may have one or many positions on this controversial subject: You agree because your experience matches that statement, you disagree because your experience does not match that statement, you may not agree nor disagree because it’s possible that some peaches are gross and some other peaches are[…]

Maybe you should read Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Maybe you shouldn’t. Here’s a little bit of information to make up your own mind. When I use the word paradigm, I mean it in the Kuhnian sense. I don’t use it as a hyperbole or superlative. I don’t look at a new ice cream brand extension and breathlessly declare that it’s a paradigm shift in desert delivery. Paradigm shouldn’t be a buzzword. Kuhn defined a scientific paradigm as a set of evidence, experiments, achievements and observations that are universally recognized, that provide a set of problems and solutions that are worthy of a communities’ focus. Communities are very particular about what they consider to be knowledge and what[…]